AUER v. ROBBINS

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
95-897
Petitioner 
Auer
Respondent 
Robbins
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
(Department of Justice, on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae)
(on behalf of the Petitioners)
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
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Facts of the Case 

Francis Bernard Auer, a St. Louis police sergeant, other St. Louis police sergeants, and a lieutenant sued the respondent police commissioners, including David A. Robbins, for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). The commissioners argued that Auer and the other petitioners were "bona fide executive, administrative, or professional" employees exempted from overtime pay requirements by the FLSA. Under the Secretary of Labor's regulations, that exemption applies to employees paid a specified minimum amount on a "salary basis," which requires that the "compensation...not [be] subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of the work performed." Auer claimed that that they did not meet this test because, under the terms of the Police Department Manual, their compensation could theoretically be reduced for a variety of disciplinary infractions related to the "quality or quantity" of their work. The District Court and the Court of Appeals disagreed with Auer's claim. Both courts held that the salary basis test was satisfied.

Question 

Must sergeants and lieutenants in the St. Louis Police Department be paid for working overtime pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Robbins, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Fair Labor Standards

No. In a unanimous decision, authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court ruled that sergeants and lieutenants are exempt as salaried employees from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The justices rejected the argument that the possibility of suspension without pay moves the officers out of the exempt category.

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AUER v. ROBBINS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 21 June 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_897>.
AUER v. ROBBINS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_897 (last visited June 21, 2014).
"AUER v. ROBBINS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed June 21, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_897.